First things first, my apologies for what I’ve done to Tolstoy’s quote in the title. I am going to talk about laws and crimes, and that was one of mine!
I have been thinking about writing this post for quite a long time, remembering a funny English class in Salamanca with the unforgettable John Hyde. Today I have seen a link on Facebook, and the title seemed something similar, so I felt the need to finally really sit down and work to it. All started when John, determined to have our really mixed class learning English by the end of the year, brought us a copy of this article from The Telegraph with some funny laws still in use in England and abroad. I am also attaching a .pdf version of the articles so you can easily read them without ads and pop-ups.
Some of them are just funny, but others, unfortunately, are offensive and really discriminatory, as you can see with more details in this article:
and in this extensive blog post:
Before starting making fun of some of these examples, let’s pretend we are serious. I am briefly going to explain why some of these laws are still in use or why they even exist. The British law system is based on the common law, which means that there hasn’t been an extensive codification resulting in general rules. Its system is, instead, based on precedents, which stand as the examples used to judge cases including the same set of facts. This is why the laws are so specific; to give an example:
In Alabama, it is illegal to be blindfolded while driving a vehicle.
Does that mean that it is legal in the rest of the states? No, it means that probably in Alabama they had to face a case in which the driver was blindfolded, and to rule about that, while the other states never had a similar case.
Now let’s talk about some specific laws that are puzzling or funny. To start, please have a look at this link, because the comments to each law are really witty and I cannot hope to do such a good job!
It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament… You cannot have a law like this in Italy where, until recently, the youngest MP was aged 70!
Mince pies cannot be eaten on Christmas Day… Thank God I was in Italy for Christmas, because I totally had mince pies, and I also lured my dad into crime!
In the UK a pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman’s helmet… Also, no one is going to double check if you are wearing your “baby on board” badge just to take the piss out of a policeman. Never an idiom was better used than this one!
In Switzerland, a man may not relieve himself standing up after 10pm… But no one will blame you if you tell your flatmates that it is illegal at all times; it may even work and you may not be afraid of walking into the bathroom!
In Switzerland, it is illegal to flush a toilet after 10pm… Ok, Swiss people, what is your problem with toilets after 10pm? Is it something like don’t feed the Gremlin after midnight?
In Florida, unmarried women who parachute on a Sunday could be jailed… Of course, they should go to the park and look for a man, it’s Sunday!
In France, it is illegal to name a pig Napoleon… But, apparently, it is legal to let it run the empire. No, wait, that really WAS Napoleon!
The only two states where divorce is illegal are the Philippines and The Vatican… Such a shame, it sounded so perfectly funny to go and live a life of sins in The Vatican!
In July 2013 a law was passed in China that states it is illegal for adult children to not visit their parents “often” in China. They are also required to attend to their parent’s spiritual needs… They needed a law for that? Emotional blackmail has worked so well for decades in Italy!
In Iowa, it is illegal for a man with a mustache to kiss a woman in public… I tried that one as well with my ex-boyfriend, but it didn’t work, he didn’t shave anyway!
In Kentucky, a woman cannot remarry the same man more than three times… Now I understand why Liz Taylor always tried to avoid Kentucky!
In France, it is stated as illegal to marry a dead person… It makes sense, that would kill the party!
In Samoa it is illegal to forget your wife’s birthday… Now stop looking up how to move to Samoa with your husbands!
In Australia, men are free to cross-dress, just as long as their dresses are not strapless… You know, melanoma is a huge concern in OZ!
In Massachusetts it is deemed illegal for a woman to be on top during sex. It is also apparently illegal in Massachusetts for a man and a woman who rent a room for the night to sleep in the nude… Wow, now I get all that obstruction to my plans to stay in Boston for the night!
No hanky panky allowed in Connecticut. A person who commits any unnatural and lascivious act with another person commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. It is illegal for unmarried couples to commit lewd acts and live together… Well, let’s close this post right here, being thankful for being back to London, and trying to forget this before next trip!